Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Been A While

During my most recent trip home, I asked my dearest cousin whether or not it seemed from afar as if I had my shit together. Her kids were all over the place, though, so I couldn't actually say "shit" - rather, some close approximation sufficed. Her candid response: "It doesn't seem like you don't have your shit together, it just seems like you're doing something completely different every other week."

A fair enough answer to quite the loaded question. I admit I designed my wording such that, no matter the response, I'd have an excuse to be a tiny bit dissatisfied. Too much shit together and I'm an old man! Too little and I'm a reckless mess! Is there no happy medium? No place to be at nearly 23.5 years old that would have me satisfied on all fronts? Is this what one's early-to-mid twenties are supposed to feel like?

The reason I'm dwelling, here, is because I totally enjoy reserving the right to completely reinvent myself whenever I see fit. It's the reason tattoos freak me out, jobs lasting longer than four months distress me to my core, and retirement center visits - themselves pockets of reality where time sits frozen, impermeable - are avoided at all costs. There's so much I think I might enjoy doing in this, my sole allotted lifetime, that picking a single option and sticking with it at a mere 23.5 years old seems a task that would surely align me with a future of resentment, disillusionment, fatigue. And there's nothing worse than fatigue.

I'm the kid who actually clicks on those CNN links to Oprah's advice column whenever the featured topic even appears to broach the subject of careers, career happiness, or career unhappiness. Not but two nights ago I devoured the tale of one conspicuously named Jennifer who, at nearly 40 years of age, abandoned her lucrative career as an ad agency bigwig and took up performing as an aerial acrobatic in Seattle. For serious. What's worse, this shit is supposed to offer a ray of hope to the tens of millions of middle-aged US employees who totally hate their lives. Feel like giving up?! Join the circus! If goddamned OPRAH WINFREY is condoning running away to the circus as an alternative to midlife misery, then I don't want within a 29-and-a-1/2 foot pole's distance of that kind of future, which means I've absolutely got to try everything on for size before I stick with any seemingly appropriate lifestyle of choice.

My dad almost died a month back, And I spent much of my time in the ICU waiting room selfishly thinking about my own life, my own happiness, what the entire situation meant for me. His NDE (near-death experience) really put a lot of my own shit into perspective - namely, that life is far too short to spend any significant amount of it doing anything I even remotely dislike. If that sounds selfish or entitled, it's probably because you've compromised your own happiness significantly. But here I am beginning to argue with an invisible audience.

Lastly, I want to focus on what my dearest Aunt told me during my most recent trip home, which I promise relates. "AJ," she said, "live entirely for yourself right now. Because as soon as you meet the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with, every single plan you've made for your future is going to fly right out the window. None of it's going to matter. You'll be on an entirely new track that you never once anticipated coming, and it will happen, eventually."

Well, fuck.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


So I'm writing this on a perfectly cloudy, if still warm, Thursday afternoon. I'm perched in a far corner of Cafe Abir, and I'm going to try and crank this out as quick as possible so as to avoid what appears to be a now-universal cliche of sitting in a coffee shop with your computer propped open. At least I'm not on Facebook. The part of my face where nose meets forehead feels flushed - most likely a reesult of my crazy, alcohol-fueled evening out not but fourteen hours ago.

It was fun.

I've been here in San Francisco for almost three months, and I have no clear idea how so much time passed without my realizing it. New episodes of Mad Men provided a good gauge of Sundays passing in rapid succession, though now the season's come and gone and halloween is knocking (Chilean miner!) and Thanksgiving lies just beyond that followed by Christmas and Spring Break and where's all the time I was supposed to be using for GRE studying and grad school researching and improving my writing skills to the extent that I'd even be accepted to any of them, anywhere?

And wow: just took a bite of the roast beef sandwich I ordered. The mustard on this puppy is intense.

Curtis visited this past week and we discovered a new hobby/obsession: aquariums. I think I've been biased toward aquariums - and, for that matter, fish tanks - in the past because most are grimy and there's shit floating in the water and you can see some sort of tarp liner or another poking out below the gravel that's being tossed around because the water pump just won't quit blowing at full force, and amid all that mess the poor little fish float, trying to stay alive. Yeah, I think that's why I never liked them. But so anyway, Curtis and I were walking to an Indian buffet not but five blocks from my apartment (jesus, this post is really making me realize how much I love typing "not but") and right next door, square in the display window, was the most pristine glass tank of water I'd ever witnessed. The sign above the scene, Aqua Forest Aquarium, promised even more inside. We were really hungry, though, so we went straight for the buffet.

- "When we're done here, we, like, have to look in that aquarium window again!"

- "I know! But how are we going to do it without looking like we're obviously looking, you know?"

- "Maybe if we stand way out by the street and just kind of look really hard."

- "But we can't be obvious about it."

- "Okay."

Twenty minutes later, we stood among the tanks, drooling. It turns out aquariums are a really big deal among artists and hobbyists in Japan, and Aqua Forest Aquarium is one of two stores in the entire US to sell these insane Japanese tanks, fish, and landscaping elements. I'm about to blow soooo much money. Curtis and I deduced that as the world continues to wind down, nature will increasingly resort to the perfectly lit, pristinely kept confine that only an Aqua Forest aquarium can provide. And also that people will spend most of their time staring at these perfect little specimens of mother nature at her finest. Indeed, the website's tagline reads, "Creating the Mother Nature." Bah!

Sooo I think that's about it for now. I mean, obviously there are tons more cool things going on, and I could go on and on talking about how great everything is - except, of course, for all the stuff that totally sucks - but I don't really feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if they knew I was saying anything too personal about them. Don't get me wrong, they're nice as hell, they're also just real touchy when it comes to stuff like that...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Awesome Advertising

I won't be watching because I don't have cable, but something tells me Spike TV's Scream Awards aren't going to get any better than this, anyway:


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autostereogram Fun!

In other news, I need better arch support for my feet if I'm to be standing 8+ hours a day.

And in even other news, I need to start prepping for the GRE. I'm kind of confused, though... weren't good grades in college earned for the express purpose of not having to take massive, stressful exams again? Isn't my worth already proven?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Count Myself...

among the luckiest of individuals. And I'm so glad my personality seems to have escaped that bear-trap of a vice known as psychopathy. Or whatever. I'm not trying to invite a slew of close reading into the above sentence; it's just something I'm increasingly thanking my Lucky Charms for, and I thought I'd share. Life is fartooshort to spend any moment of it being anything but glad for where you're at and excited for where you could potentially be a few thousand - or a few hundred thousand - breaths down the road. A fine line divides all of us from that crazy bitch the next window over, the one who spends her days shouting hoarsely to a host of acquaintances that abandoned her for sunnier dispositions. If any of you see me heading down her path, please immediately do something drastic.

Otherwise, San Francisco is melting under a heat wave's wrath, the movie Catfish is definitely at least worth a rental a few months from now, Folsom Street Fair was all kinds of crazy, and my uoregon email account subtly deactivated itself a month ago, so you can now only get a hold of me via gmail.

Message for the address!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This kind of innovation gives me such hope for the future of theme parks, real life, etc.

(As usual, this is a link so as not to compromise frame size):

3D Projection Mapping

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Fleeting thoughts of a Fire Rabbit

So I'm at Cafe Abir, again, and the crazy-ass barista (the one who didn't mistake me for Matt Damon my first two times here) just christened me a Fire Rabbit... this after attempting, straight-faced, to charge me $1000 for my bagel and coffee for a solid sixty seconds. Previously, during my jaunt down the sidewalk to get here, I sidestepped a perfectly respectable couple on their hands and knees, heedless of the cement's grime, photographing a little twig of a succulent that had sprung up from a crack in the turf. And even earlier, my insane neighbor lady woke me up by shouting "7 am... 7 am... 7 AM!!!" over and over and over.

Point is, I'm surrounded by crazies. Even the ones who aren't obvious enough for me to flat-out avoid have at least one or two demented characteristics stuffed up their sleeve, and they're all just waiting for a naive little Oregon boy to walk by and trigger them. Simone and I were talking the other day about how neither of us is able to walk by a clearly homeless/begging person without making eye contact and, in so doing, acknowledging them as fellow humans - for her, though, these brief encounters really bring down her good spirits. I suppose this means my near-total soullessness actually is good for something other than what might be considered downright scathing observational skills. Still, I can't help but wonder how much further I might inadvertently sink by the simple act of gradually growing more and more numb to both the characters and the antics that populate this city.

But enough of that. Work = work (has it been 8 hours yet?!?). My days off = sleep. Night = drinking and/or repeat episodes of Mad Men. Opportunity beckons, I just need to get off my lazy ass and chase it. Also: come visit!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I'm sitting at Cafe Abir on the corner of Divisadero (Divis, in local speak) and Fulton with a large glass of coffee. It's two in the afternoon.

This is how I handle quitting caffeine cold turkey.

Prior to my move to San Francisco, I drank coffee lots. And lots and lots. My new job at Apple, though, has turned me into a nervous sweater the likes of which my armpits haven't experienced since those early high school years. And caffeine (according to online) = nervous sweats, which are disgusting. I find myself lurching around the store halfway through my shift, Frankenstein-style, in an attempt to shield others from the sopping portion of shirt that sometimes trails all the way to my belt line. Stuffing paper towels under my armpits during breaks only makes me look more awkward, and the remedy of wearing a black shirt is only going to take me as far as tomorrow, when I officially don my blue Apple jersey. CertainDri, Dove Clinical Strength Protection, and good old stick deodorant aren't doing the trick, either. So I've abandoned coffee in favor of a constant headache and the occasional giant mug of liquid crack at two in the afternoon on my days off. I'm a junkie, only instead of finding needled solace in the night's grimiest shadows, I take to the Cafes of Divis on sunny afternoons for my coffee fix, a lone rogue among the masses of normal sippers. Why, why, why can't I be normal? At all? Ever?

I should also mention that I haven't eaten yet, which means my head is buzzing (in addition to the headache) and my hands are clumsy and I'm not really sure if these sentences are making any sense (we can most certainly kiss 'clever' as an adjective goodbye, at least for now). Molly woke me up early so we could run to 24-Hour Fitness together, which means I couldn't eat beforehand (in addition to nervous sweats, I cramp easily). Our gym is a legit inner-city type confabulation, with the relevant smells, foreigners, strange workout costumes, poor equipment, and seriously shady smoothie bar included. Every time I walk in and out unscathed I give myself a mental pat on the shoulder for what must be a hardcore, take-neither-my-weights-nor-my-lunch-money face. And then I run back home through Japantown, sweaty and proud, and life is good.

I intended to purchase this open-faced bagel sandwich type thing they serve here at Abir, but the lady just let me on the fact that they don't have bagels so late in the day, which means I'll probably end up scarfing a burrito in another twenty minutes. This city has more burritos than something that should have a lot of something else that's funny, and the salsas are killer.

My apartment is grand. My window looks out on a 35-foot pit of other windows, each one providing a glimpse into the lives of others (no shit, huh?). So far, these include:
- Adjacent: A family from Eastern Europe (or someplace) that occasionally shouts.
- Adjacent 2: Molly's window. Boooring.
- Across: A senile old woman with a smoker's voice who begins her days promptly at 7 am and spends them shouting at her helper Alison, another ambiguous elderly person who always wants to use her phone, the television set ("OH GOD, NOOOOO!!!"), and telephone operators ("I'd like to speak to a representative. I'd LIKE to speak to a representative. I'D LIKE TO SPEAK TO A REPRESENTATIVE. I'D LIKE TO SPEAK TO A REPRESENTATIVE."). Someone should seriously kill the bitch. Seriously.
- Across and below: A girl who spends most of her time lounging in bed, surfing Facebook.
- Below and out of sight: Frequent sex noises. A gay guy who listens to lots of disco and club pop. Bros and their beer pong.

Apple so far is simultaneously completely overwhelming and pretty fun. I also, however, can't fathom the remainder of my life without regular summer breakage, and unless something major changes, I'm carrying out my plan to return to school in two or three years to earn a master's, make an intellectual impact, and morph into a professor so as to spend the rest of my life on a college campus, reading books and writing papers and arguing with those whose opinions are wrong. But more on that later. For now, I included above a picture of the glass staircase at the store where I work, which apparently is some kind of patented technological wonder that doesn't exist anywhere else. All I can think about whenever I look at it is how embarrassing it's going to be when I finally eat shit on its transparent surface and provide the entire watchful store with a painful, sweat-streaked tumble.

What else? I'm determined to start posting more frequently now that the initial month of craziness has come and gone, so there's no need to get too deep with this one. My "internship" rocks, though I'm afraid that now I'm done editing all their extant material they'll have no more use for me. Either way, I come out on top, because if I'm not doing that I'll have more time to focus on my writing, which kind of just stopped as soon as I showed up here. For those of you who aren't aware, check it out:

Which renegade radio station transmits across Dolores Park...?

Until next time, take care. And visit! For christ's sake, visit. Unless you already live here, in which case let's go out! Oh, that's another thing: most of my readership is/are now my neighbors, so I don't really know how to be entertaining while rehashing stuff everyone here already knows about. Tis a tough set of circumstances, tis.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I spent allllll morning working on a huge update and it just deleted. I'm pissed. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 2, 2010


If my room here at 61165 River Bluff Trail consists mostly of me and the things I've put into it, then I shouldn't be the least bit sad about leaving behind its jagged, lofty architecture. What I care about is coming with me, and what now only serve as relics will be disassembled, boxed, forgotten - much as they would have anyway, but without the slow creep of time further distancing me from my attachment. This here's a change, swift as the best of them... one of those that makes life worth living.

Excitement! Moving on and on and on. Personal growth. THE FUTURE.

But what of my brother in the next room over? And the view from the porch's corner? And this, the most silent of silences, over which a literal glut of stars preside? What am I supposed to do with my bone-deep love for these things? They can't be boxed, and they most certainly can't be forgotten. Resigning them to memory seems like something an old person would do.

Ah, that word again: old. I'm getting old. Probably not so much in the eyes of those older than me - though, of course, their gaze isn't the one that matters. My own is the one that keeps eyeing the boxes now housing approximately 83% of my existence. My own is the one that can't bring itself to stare down the rest and justify my leaving it behind because it. just. doesn't. matter. Because it belonged to youth - or, at least, a more youthful part of youth. Youth within youth. And youth within youth within youth. But you can only go so far until youth just can't fit any more youth within it, and that's when you know you're leaving it, and that's the landmark I rapidly feel myself approaching.

And the stars will keep blinking. And my brother will keep sitting in the next room over, himself aging until he as well abandons his room. And then it will just be my parents, alone here with the most silent of silences, wilting nightly under the looming stars. And it's almost too much to think about. Almost.

A job might ease the unease, but will it really? I have a hunch it will just make those moments of silence all the more unbearable, because when you finally take a breath after God knows how many months of not, and it all comes rushing back, what kind of job could possibly make the distance, the time, the leaving behind of the posters, all worthwhile? What shimmering future moment could possibly equate to the glory of youth?

Friday, July 30, 2010


A verbatim excerpt from a piece of paper I just found in my underwear drawer... which I obviously need to clean out more:

9/29/00 - St. Francis Bingo Night

Tonight I joined first clique. 8th grader in it! Talked about "stuff"! Going to a pool party. I feel really mature now. Cool!!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Man with a 30 Second Memory

Thought provoking, to say the least:

The whole time all I could think about was how I might try and explain this situation to someone who hadn't watched the video, and I concluded the impact just wouldn't be the same. I love how his wife is sticking with him - you best believe if I were her, I'd have ran for the hills, like, four years ago. Still, it's the perfect romantic touch to keep this story from complete and utter bummer-dom.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fun Site

I just copy-and-pasted the first four paragraphs of "Smith Experience" into this website, and apparently they're good at telling who you might be trying your hardest to imitate...

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Every July 11th for the Rest of my Life...

...will henceforth commemorate the rascally shenanigans of the Barefoot Bandit, the Pacific Northwest's very own - and possibly last all-time great - classic, movie-worthy American criminal.

The ethical dilemma this Colton character presents will surely be the stuff of 100-level Ethics discussion groups for years to come, though my answer will never waver: this kid rocks! Okay, breaking into a store is bad, and everyone knows it, and I'd be the first person to throw the metaphorical stone at such a person in such a situation. But to break into a store... after escaping juvi... and then stealing a series of planes... and crash landing them... and branding both a moniker and a calling card (you heard of the barefoot chalk outlines, yeah?)... and then fleeing to the Bahamas... before one final, high-speed, gun-laden boat chase... now that's the stuff every 14-year-old boy's dreams are made of. I don't care how into "just reading" you are.

Unfortunately, I predict Colton is quickly approaching what will someday equate to the final twenty minutes of his Steven Spielberg-produced biopic, which, as everyone who watches such biopics knows, always drag. Here's hoping the actor who plays him (but - oh, man! - I just realized it's gonna have to be some annoying-as-hell kid actor) opts out of the scraggly prison beard look. It's overdone.

As for me? I'm spending every July 11th, in addition to the line for the midnight showing of Catch That Bandit!, barefoot.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's Hot as Balls Out

I woke up this morning at 5:33 (or something like that... exact times are just always more dramatic, so I allow some creative leeway if I can't remember it to the minute) unable to breathe. It was just. so. hot. out. I'd already stripped completely naked and removed all the covers from my bed, so there really wasn't anything more I could do in that department. Plus, it was 5:33 (or something), and who the hell would choose actually getting up to try and solve a problem at so early an hour? Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "you're the kind of person who would do that, AJ. Why would you even ask such a question when it's so obvious you'd respond exactly how you're now suggesting no one ever would." And you aren't incorrect. I hate situations that could easily be fixed but aren't, and yet I still don't usually do anything about them... unless it's 5:33 (or something) and my bedroom is already 80 degrees fahrenheit and I can hardly breath and a fine sheen of sweat has me stuck to my near-bare mattress. That's when I get up and move the fan from its perch beside the window to about two inches from my face.

Summer in Eugene has been miserable and hot and full of busy work that I don't appreciate at all. But I've also had the time to watch some movies!

The Informant: Hilarious. Loved the soundtrack and the funky visuals. Matt Damon's voiceovers are also incredible. Plus, he looks like SUCH a dork with a mustache.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure: Yeah, that's right, I'd never seen this one before. In retrospect, I actually now count this omission in my favor, because I don't think as a child I would ever have appreciated Tim Burton's early knack for mise-en-scene, nor Pee-Wee's gleeful performance, nor the infectiously juvenile jokes that grow and grow and grow on you throughout the film's running time until it's all just really damn funny. Honestly, Pee-Wee still kind of bothers me, but its an irk that I feel is similar to many other people's dislike of Jerri Blank in that they both run on strange facial tics and an obnoxious laugh, so I'm willing to suppress my reservations in an effort to demonstrate the tolerance we should all practice with Jerri. But I digress.

Hot Tub Time Machine: If I ever talk with you and you start telling me how much you like this movie, we probably won't stay friends. Simple as that. What's happened to mainstream humor in America? Is this really what it takes for a film to go blockbuster on our asses in the twenty-first century? It's inept. I think the main point of contention for me is that people have to be kind of smart to write a movie, so when something this stupid comes along, I just don't understand how an individual can possess enough of a brain to pen a script while ALSO being the kind of person who values this brand of humor. The two just don't go together. Skip!

And that's about it. Tomorrow = Oregon Country Fair. I'm not sure whether to be excited or just plain depressed about spending a day surrounded by 100% Organic hippies.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

They've Done it Again!

The latest, craziest (?) OK Go single-take music video, "End Love." Once again, I'm linking so as not to compromise the frame size:

End Love!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Series of Verdicts

We Live in Public: This 15-year-spanning documentary chronicles the gripping prophecies of Joe Harris, the "most famous internet mogul you've never heard of." In 1999, on the brink of the new millennium, Joe, in a fit of experimental genius, converted four New York lofts into a bunker of sorts. Participants who volunteered to live in this bunker were rigorously screened - frighteningly so. They weren't allowed to leave. They slept in cubicles, showered in transparent glass domes, ate together, partied together, shot off rifles at the provided shooting range together. Oh, and everything they did was monitored, close range, by cameras that never strayed. In effect, what Joe created was a real-life Facebook, in which one's actions only counted if they were recorded, viewed, and commented on. The effects, as the film shows, were devastating.

And then Joe begins another project, the likes of which actual technology is only just catching up to, so I won't spoil it here. Let's just say that by documentary's end, we as the audience leave Mr. Harris both awed and horrified - and with his own thought process now three steps ahead of mankind's technological evolution, it's kind of a wonder he's okay living with himself. Everyone should view this film; it's provocative in every sense of the term.

I also couldn't help but make comparisons between Joe's real-life happenings and the events of my own "Smith Experience," in which a remarkably similar situation plays out. I'll admit that I'd heard about this film last fall, but I forbid myself from seeing it until my own creative project was completed out of a fear that I'd inadvertently copy his story. Well... good thing I did! The one plot element of this man's real life experiments that I really hadn't counted on for my own characters was the intoxicating sense of daring and freedom that initially follows the realization one's actions are being broadcast to a mass of unidentified viewers. The men and women of his bunker first lived it up before tearing each other apart. Go figure.

Toy Story 3: I mean, obviously it was genius. I'd also like to add that I think "Day & Night" - the short that maintains Pixar tradition by warming up the audience prior to the film proper - is the best of them I've seen. Can't believe I stood in line for the original Toy Story with my family fifteen years ago at the Mountain View Mall.

[French accent]: Ze time, how she flies.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: When I finished Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - and not before failing to surpass its first 100 pages on two separate occasions - the experience of profound loss I felt was quickly attributed to it being my first week in New Zealand, and that it was rainy and cold out and I had no friends and was so, so, so far away from a Bend summer. In short, I thought the book was excellent, but that the accompanying emotions were more a product of my own circumstances than of Chabon's writing skills.

Well, this one's done gone and proven me wrong. It's also inspired the shit out of me. Apparently Chabon cranked this thing out between 21 and 24 years of age, submitted it for his MFA, thesis project, and then catapulted the puppy right into a publishing house. I really think it's Chabon's quiet insightfulness and accompanying humor that does it for me. He navigates conversations with the best of them, and I just love how real it all sounds. That's not to say, though, that there aren't a few weak areas - and the fact that I'm now able to legitimately SPOT them has me excited. Still, a highly recommended read.

Also, this one brought about the formulation of a new goal: I will have something substantial written and on its way to a prospective agent by the time I turn 24. Just see if I don't.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Don't They Have Someone For That?

That was also the day Luis, the pool guy – who, I’m sure, had a more descript title, though at the time his title wasn’t any of my concern and is still of no real relevance to this account – found the baby floating, face down, in the pool. It was morning (obviously), the sky only a few shades brighter than the ocean it crowned and under which Luis performed his customary – and, most likely, included-in-the-job-description – rotating of the recliner cushions before even the surliest elderly resorters, hot-dog tans and trashy dime novels in tow, came creeping from their master suites to lay claim, with an unhurried flourishing of mint and forest-green striped pool towels, over the chairs sporting the most shade/least shade/closest proximity to the swim-up bar/washrooms/etc. I know what the sun looked like so early because, although I was not yet awake, my brother was standing in line later that afternoon to exchange US currency for its equivalent in the then-floundering peso, and the lobby’s teller window, it so happened, was conspicuously close to the little back room wherein sat Luis, accompanied by a resort bigwig and one or two of Mazatlan’s finest – though, to be accurate here, said policemen probably weren’t the finest, because all the finest had been/were in the process of being machine-gunned down, Rambo-style, by the local drug cartel. I know because the night before we’d seen it happen; “We” being my family and I. It was Spring Break Week 2010, I’d graduated from college just under a year previous, and this was the afternoon in which I’d finally shed my insecurities, renounce Catholicism, and join my mom for a game of Blackjack under the billowing shade of the ominously stark Activities Tent I’d steadfastly avoided for the previous ten years’ worth of Spring Break trips to the exact same poolside under the exact same sun toiled under by the exact same pool guy, Luis.

The dead girl likely had no major impact on the day’s proceedings, though she makes for a real slam-bang of an opener. Plus, seeing as the rest of the story isn’t anywhere near as exciting as the discovery of a waterlogged corpse at dawn, I always use it as a hook. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious, I’ll also point out the striking coincidental nature of the timing of this dead body popping up a mere eight-ish hours after my own personal witnessing of the massacre of the three police taken out the night before directly in front of the Oxxo we sped by on the return journey from dinner at The Purple Onion to Emerald Bay Mazatlan, a less-than-humble resort destination we frequented once a year, called our own, littered with wet towels, and then sped away from just in time for another family to pull up, repeat the process with probably only one or two significant variations from our own take on the word vacation, and then desert in due process.

The whole endeavor was enough to make one feel like shit – if you could manage to extract yourself from the pool volleyball tournaments and the exotic drinks for long enough to actually take a removed look at the situation and assess the squalor of the surrounding beaches/peoples/waterlogged corpses that only kinda served, at least in the eyes of my family and I (until, of course, a certain age) as a literal striking contrast to the luxury of vacation both my mother and father had “worked so hard to be able to afford.” I (again, only until a certain age) at that shit up, man.

At any rate, our pulmonia gunned past the scene of the crime to the bounce of MJ’s finest, “Beat It,” and my mother sat hunched behind her camera. It was brand new and shiny – she’d lost her older one somewhere between Christmas and PDX, and though she’d pulled it out intending to snap a picture of my brother and I – coifs slightly bent against the warm, pungent Mexico breeze – the Canon PowerShot A570 IS’s ultra-fast shutter speed actually captured brains. Lots of brains, traveling Southwest along Calle Maxipista parallel to the trajectory of our pulmonia. My father would later remark that the freeze-framed sinewy blobs more closely resembled jellyfish than anything, but “pink ones… with shit all over them.”

And our driver didn’t slow. Maybe in Mexico it’s customary to flee a crime scene ASAFP. Or maybe he didn’t want his pinkie finger’s tricked-out nail to attract attention to the Eight Ball of coke that no doubt sat just between his thighs. Whatever the case, all we had time to process were shots, pinging like popcorn in a too-big kettle – only about a hundred thousand times louder. And men falling. And other men running. And my mother’s trembling grasp on the PowerShot, her mouth slackening into an “O” so saggy if she’d seen it the eventual facelift would’ve happened several birthdays sooner. The rest was supplied by the local news in our hotel room that evening. My father forbid us from telling anyone there what we’d seen. My brother and I had to drink our way into a stupor just to fall asleep we were so adrenalized – this after he’d failed to score a dime bag from the housekeeping staff.

So at any rate the next morning dawned, and there was eventually some screaming, and for a while I was really jazzed about the potential “whodunit”-type afternoon I might be in store for, but it was quickly deduced by the policía – with no little help from Luis, I can assure you – that the girl had simply crawled from her ground-floor patio and fallen into the water. At least this is what my brother heard from his perch in the lobby, during which point he also hypothesized that the guilty-as-fuck look on the parents’ faces as they sat on a marble bench just to the left of the teller window that everything that morning seemed to be happening either in, behind, or around was the direct result of them having been boning so early and so loudly in the morning as to have awoken their daughter, who obviously wanted nothing to do with whatever was causing such a ruckus and instead decided on a swim – or, at least, came as close to a decision as a twenty-month-old can.

“But she didn’t bring her water wings.”

I didn’t laugh when he cracked that one, so it’s okay if you don’t, either. Rather, I rolled away from facing him on my lounge chair beside the pool – which they’d reopened (and on schedule!) after a thorough chlorine filtering – for another sip of my Salty Dog. The activities woman – one Elena Big Tits, as the elderly gentleman who routinely sat to the left of our collection of chairs had taken to calling her after she’d personally awarded him a drink coupon for his Bingo win two days previous – announced over the speaker system an imminent game of Blackjack in the Activities Tent. She made it sound like “Black Yak.” Both of us chuckled.

“But seriously, though,” he continued, “how can something like that happen, you know? Where’s God when some little girl’s crawling her way to the deep end?” This was the closest I can ever recall my brother getting to all that existence-type stuff. He’s never been a real heavy thinker.

I stood, mapped out my path of travel around the pool’s perimeter so as to come as close to Elena Big Tits as possible, hiked up my board shorts, and started walking. “Maybe he’s dead. God, I mean.” Which he – God – really must not have appreciated, considering how the ten years since have gone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Endless Time

Oh. My. Goodness. I'm (kind-of sort-of) graduating on Sunday, and this morning at 9:48 I completed my final final ever... finally! Since then, I've officially already decided I'm bored with the real world and its vast scads of free time that will eventually - and begrudgingly - play host to a job. And pruning the hedges. And weekends spent on the couch as a disillusioned 35-year-old; holey, Dorito-crumb-smeared underwear and remote control in tow.

But that's all still 13 years away. What I've got in the immediate future are my twenties, and I'll be damned if they don't look fun! Something in the past few days has really clicked up in the ol' noggin, and I'm realizing that - provided, of course, the world doesn't end - I just can't wait to do something stimulating and exciting and creative in a way that nothing else before really has been done. My experience at the Jejune Institute left me reeling: if someone else created an entire company that produces entertainment in so revolutionary a manner, why can't I?

I feel like the ingredients are in me, so what I've narrowed down my necessities to are the following:

- Proper funding.
- A team of like-minded, super-awesome individuals.
- A city setting with which to work.

If you've an idea how I can procure any of them, do tell.

The future, my friends, is bright. Now you've all just got to help me not grow too disillusioned too quickly, because I have a tendency to collapse in the face of anything that isn't immediate success. And I'd really like to keep my distance from the proverbial bag of Doritos.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Time Has Come...

To talk of many things. I'm sitting in a laundromat as I write (the same location that served as inspiration for my creative story that rendered me eligible for the Kidd Tutorial exactly a year ago!), and there's a massive bumblebee buzzing between my seat back and the window. I want to smash it, but I'm concerned for humanity's future. Did you know roughly two-thirds of the US bee population didn't survive this past winter? And that when the bees go, we all do?

At least that's what Albert Einstein said.

I'm also finished with college. Well, there's still summer school to contend with, but no one really cares about that. It's just another excuse for me to spin my wheels and fret over the future. THE FUTURE. Agh! As I walked from my Shakespeare lecture the other day, I was seized with a combined sense of loss and panic. The truth of the matter is that I love love love college, and I'm really in no hurry to leave the land of beer, attractive young people, and zero consequences. Also, the notion that my brain as it currently sits could feasibly be the most formally educated it's ever going to get pretty much freaks me out. Big time. Am I supposed to feel enlightened? In control? At some kind of apex? If so, whoever was in charge of handing out all that shit totally skipped me over.

But there are other, more important items up for discussion. Like, for example, the series finale of LOST. What can I say that hasn't already been said? How about: if you were angered by its conclusion, you've totally misinterpreted the finest show television's ever offered (just behind Six Feet Under, of course). I could go into some kind of lengthy analysis about what it all [probably] means, and how brilliantly structured the final act was in terms of leaving lots of elements available for individual conclusion-reaching (because I already used "interpretation" a sentence or two ago, and any writer worth their weight in eclairs knows not to repeat vocabulary... ever), but instead I'll just say that right about the time Sun and Jin drowned in a submarine, my desire for forward momentum came to a screeching halt (here, of course, I'm choosing to ignore another writer's rule and employ a go-for-broke cliche). I realized I didn't want any more of these awesome characters to die, and that what I really, really wanted to see more than anything was all my favorites back together again, hugging it out in some kind of timeless realm where fate and consequence didn't matter. And that's exactly what I got!

Mmm. Boone.

And then there's my San Francisco trip, during which I reveled in mysteries so extreme I'm still kind of addled. If you missed my previous mention of The Jejune Institute, be sure to check it out. And then also there's this:

The Clock Without a Face

Plus that's not even to mention not getting lost in search of the Redding In-N-Out for the first time ever (!), the Santa Cruz boardwalk (Katelyn shout-out!), The Castro, family reunions (Simone!), and driving around for nearly an hour in search of a parking spot. It's an unpleasant experience, I can assure you. At any rate, wohoo! Here's hoping Google and/or Facebook hires me. I hear an "in" is absolutely essential, though, so if any of you out there in the blogosphere know someone (or even know someone who knows someone) please do be sure and let me know. I'd love to move south.

Finally, there's Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Having been tainted at a very early age by the film's intentionally slow pace, I was wary of watching 2001 in its entirety. However, after viewing - and loving - the more recent Moon, and after Netflix assured me the two films are similar, I gave it a shot. Fast-forward to approximately 2:30 am after a long night at the bars, at which point a stupored Yours Truly decided (and the following is verbatim): "dammit! I'm nearly a college grad! If I want to sit down at 2:30 am and start up 2001: A space Odyssey, then I'm goddamned gonna do it! And it's gonna be fun! And to hell with the rest of the world! Right now it's me, this television, and the cold wind blowing."

The above, ladies and gentlemen, is how I'd highly recommend you watch 2001, if you haven't already (that is to say: drunk and late at night). My mind, to be brief, was freaking blown. What a trip! What cinematography! And the music! My God, the music! And the special effects! Flawless! And the layers of mystery! Let's hear it for mystery! Epic, epic, epic. This film pretty much cements Kubrick, in my mind, as a genius, and I've got to get to watching everything else he's done rather immediately. How did none of you think of mentioning this one to me over and over until I finally caved?

I have an EWEB envelop with me, on the back of which is written quite the list of topics to broach right about meow. But my laundry's done, and I'm a college graduate, so whatevs. Take it easy, yo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Funny. Clever. Heartbreaking?

With only three days to go until "The End", I just can't revel in enough expressions of LOST fandom like this one. When hardcore rappers and I feel the same way about something, you know it's worthwhile. The coolest part is that the cheese and the wink-wink lyrics only make it better. Or have I now totally lost my mind?

-->"I'll Never Be LOST Again"<--

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Which Color Scheme Says 'ME'?

If you haven't noticed, I've been conducting quite the remodel here at Minor Fiascos, Etc. over the past few weeks. After deciding it was time to simplify, and out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new and all that, and not to even mention I'm graduating in, like, three weeks, and plus wasn't I supposed to adopt a much more serious tone because of whatever the hell's going on with Entertainment Weekly? Or something? Yes? No? No one cares?

At any rate, to get to a point when I'm not entirely sure there's one to be had: this is my new format!

I'd appreciate feedback from anyone. Is the font too difficult to read? Do you miss a picture behind the title? Are the colors not cheery enough for summer '10? I gots to know! In other news: look for a brand new short story headed this way soon! (And by 'soon' I of course mean in the next one/four weeks, because who are we kidding?)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crave the Mystery...

With the series finale of LOST looming (God, do I talk about anything else these days?) and my bizarre thesis project finalized to the point where I no longer have any hulking workload to cower behind, I'm finding myself more and more contemplating my need for mystery.

Like, I'm just not a happy camper unless I've something to puzzle over, to form theories about, to think and rethink until I end up twice as confused as when I started. Mystery, for me, is one of those compelling forces (along with sex and spicy food) that keeps me going. After all, who actually likes reaching a novel's final page? Don't we all long to be back at the beginning as soon as we realize the end is in sight? Is any of this normal? Does everyone enjoy not having all the answers? What would any of us do if we got them?

I'm not sure - obviously. What I do know, though, is that this interest is widespread. Thanks to JJ Abrams (above) - whom I believe is Hollywood's single greatest young asset - television and film are beginning to embrace the question mark. LOST, Fringe, Viral Marketing, the Super 8 trailer... all purposefully enigmatic. All utilizing media in innovative, downright revolutionary style. Mystery is cool again, and its 21st-century format is being branded in the guise of whole new concepts - none of that who-shot-who bullshit.

We, my loyal readers, are living and breathing in 2010: a decade in which humankind has reached the point of exhaustion in its successful search for answers, and we're ready to be baffled again. We have Wikipedia. We know why things are melting just as precisely as we know why other things are exploding. We understand the widespread hate that grips the globe, the impending exhaustion of fossil fuels, the convecting of gases in our atmosphere, the nation's reliance on increasingly synthesized food, the fact that Iron Man 2 can rake in over $100 million in 48 hours at the box office while simultaneously several thousands of children died of hunger in Africa - and several dozen more perished in our own country. We've reached the point where we don't want any more blatant answers. What we want are more thoughts that defy both rational explanation and solution. If there's no clear path of action, then we don't really have to do anything about it... right?

Now, that last paragraph was a bit of a bummer, and I'm not implying the mystery provided by corporatized entertainment is any kind of appropriate remedy. What I am saying, though, is that America's sort-of collective consciousness is veritably gasping for air at this point. Those who aren't living in complete denial need something to distract from the painfully obvious truth of our current situation, and that thing is as easy to come by as a single compelling thought that holds no inherent, gloomy conclusion.

I present, then, for your keen perusal, the following fantastic links:

Super Cool Mystery House

Real-life DHARMA Initiative

That last one is courtesy of my good friends in San Francisco, and I plan on checking out The Jejune Institute myself in less than two weeks! I promise a full report following the adventure. Which brings me, of course, to my second favorite topic behind mystery... me!

I've recently decided I'm much too boring a person, and that in order to make my twenties (or, the 7.2 years of them that remain...d-yikes!) truly 'zing' I need a whole new set of mysterious affectations to keep people guessing. After all, who doesn't want to make friends with the weird guy at the party? As it stands, my one idea (a perplexing little slogan) turned out to also be the name of a Northwest hipster/rapper (Mad Rad), so I'm back at square one. Feel free to lob suggestions! I should warn you, though, that I draw the line at facial hair, cryptic tattoos, voluntary amputations, and any organized religion, new or otherwise.

I can only hope tomorrow's horoscope will promise something along the lines of a treasure map soon making its way into my grubby little hands. Until then... Iron Man 2, anyone?

I kid.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's a Doozie

Here's the one rule: no judging.

--> Smith Experience <--

In related (and fairly obvious) news, I've finished my thesis! Or at least the creative portion. What's all this about 25 pages of research?!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

For Good Measure

An excerpt from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. Go! Buy! Read!

"Orin and Marlon Bain's view was always that C.T. was less like a person than like a sort of cross-section of a person. Even The Moms Hal could remember relating anecdotes about how as a teenager, when she'd taken the child C.T. or been around him at Quebecois functions or gatherings involving other kids, the child C.T. had been too self-conscious and awkward to join right in with any group of the kids clustered around, talking or plotting or whatever, and so Avril said she'd watch him just kind of drift from cluster to cluster and lurk around creepily on the fringe, listening, but that he'd always say, loudly, in some lull in the group's conversation, something like 'I'm afraid I'm far too self-conscious really to join in here, so I'm just going to lurk creepily at the fringe and listen, if that's all right, just so you know,' and so on."

- pg. 517

More on my life forthcoming.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Happily Ever After"

Thank God (read: vast, incomprehensible algorithm of sorts) for this latest episode of LOST. As much as I'm loving season 6 (because how could I not?), something had to happen to usher in the series' conclusion. Something big. Something game-changing. And when an episode's dually written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (LOST's show runners) and directed by Jack Bender, you know it's not gonna disappoint.

The big beef LOST naysayers have had with this current season is its seemingly irrelevant sideways timeline. And I kept telling these people the same thing: obviously with a show this precise in its execution, it's GOING to have some relevance. What was witnessed in "Happily Ever After" is not only proof of that relevance, but proof that the sideways reality is getting f**king exciting!

I've had a good long while (six years, now) to scheme and plot an appropriate ending for what is arguably network cable's most daring endeavor (Twin Peaks gives LOST a run for its money in the "what the hell?!" department), and the thing is, my brain's incapable of coming up with something truly kickass. I just can't fathom it, which is why I (and, I'm assuming, so many others) was so concerned the writers get it right. They've got a LOT riding on these final six episodes, and the implications of island world and alternate world colliding (or bleeding together, or willingly pairing up, or whatever) in my opinion really do constitute the ingredients for a decisive, thrilling end.

There's also Jacob and the Man in Black to consider, though, and how their argument fits into DHARMA/electromagnetic activity/parallel realities is going to need some explanation. But that's what's going to make these last ones fun. Forward ho!

I'm running this post short because I'm being whisked away to Portland in about fifteen minutes... may update in a few days.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bringing Us Up to Speed

Spring break in a paragraph: relatives (lots of them)! Extreme bouts of mother-mandated self-consciousness (in no way related to my grandparents' near-constant presence). Stubborn refusal. A t-shirt when not many others had them on. And a breakfast buffet to end all breakfast buffets. For serious. I also managed to get through David Foster Wallace's Oblivion, an incredible, inspiring, and oftentimes downright absurd book of short stories that I'd recommend to anyone. Go read it! Or just flip to either "The Soul is Not a Smithy" or "Good Old Neon" for examples of the best writing the 21st century has to offer. Again, for serious.

Then I came back to Eugene. I hate when people always make those insipid comments about good/bad weather following them from place to place. As in, "Hey, Bob, looks like you brought that sun back with you from Nevada! Eh, Bob? Eh?" First of all, a statment like this automatically reduces the speaker to a position of idiocy, and second-of-ly, as if anyone who isn't completely up-their-own-ass-narcissistic would actually believe the weather is not only aware of their existence, but also is willing to drop whatever it was doing (or not) and actively follow that person across the state/country/sea just to provide some piddling water-cooler talk. Long story short: unless you're either an idiot or a narcissist (or, God forbid, both), stop with the weather comments!

But seriously, the weather in Eugene seemed to know I was coming, because it's been raining like hell (if hell was positioned beneath the floorboards of the world's largest leaky sink) ever since we got back. Where's my spring term filled with alcohol and sandals and little to no obligation?! Where's the sun for me to cower from? All I've got to keep me company are 16 credits' worth of class, which I'm going to detail right... NOW!

Shakespeare 208: Exactly how it sounds. I already had Ginsberg as a professor for Medieval lit (which was actually more like ancient Greek lit), and he finds no shame in jumping around the front of the room speaking different parts and screaming to the Gods. Bear in mind he's like 70 years old and highly Jewish. On the downside, the class is stuffed full of freshmen, and I hate them.

Consumer Culture: The last of my Honors College requirements! It's three hours long, seminar-style, in a stuffy little board room with fifteen other overachievers, and it runs from 5-8 on Tuesday nights. Not the best time slot. The Professor reminds me of a severely jaded future me, and I left the first class (having watched three hours' worth of Dove, Axe, and toy commercials, bleak news reports, and online documentaries) feeling less than hopeful. []

Magazine Editor 474: My professor is a rock star (literally), and since I've had him all year I'm expecting quite the letter of recommendation. Oh, I'm also the only guy. Here's how class started:
Professor Wheeler: Looks like you're the only guy here with me, AJ.
15 girls: Ohhhh, you're soooo lucky!
Me (internal): This is such a major bummer.

Kidd Tutorial: More creative writing. Nuff said.

I think that about does it! Besides can I also mention really quick how cruelly realistic these internet-based April Fools jokes are becoming? They get me every time! Oh, and LOST is progressively kicking more and more ass. Case in point:

Friday, March 19, 2010

St. Patty's Edition! (Several Days Late)

I had a dream last night that my blog finally achieved a loyal following of 8 - count 'em, EIGHT! - readers. Obviously, when I rushed into the living room this morning (an hour late, no less, because of daylight savings time... what?) to see if my dream had impacted reality (or vice versa) I was massively disappointed. This is the latest in a trend of dreams I've experienced in which it's become increasingly difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.

Case in point #1: During my Beanie Baby craze, circa 1999, when I dreamt a man in Drake Park was tossing free, valuable Beanies out of a little red cart. I, rushing behind him, managed to secure my collection's missing bears. Oh joy! Then: Ohhh... no! That was a rough morning.

Case in point #2: This one involves lava, the parking lot of the Old Mill's Regal Cinema, a strange sunset-like dimness, and Ben Affleck as my black half-brother. We hugged and cried a lot.

Regardless, the term's over. And this one nearly killed me. I finished a complete rough draft of my creative thesis, which currently clocks in at just over 84 pages. I still need to crank out the 30-page research portion and perform some major surgery on the creative segment's rough draft, but the end, my friends, is in sight! The project is due May 1, and then I have to defend in front of my thesis committee May 13. If any of you were planning on driving to Eugene so as to heckle from the sidelines, I'm revealing neither the exact time nor the room number of the proceedings.

As for now, though, it's Mazatlan in about two hours! I've been wearing shorts and sandals all week so as not to look too prunish when I first head to the pool, and I'm happy to report my feet are sufficiently ripe-smelling (a curious side effect of me wearing sandals... and also case in point #743 of why my life is so difficult). Sean and I are spending tonight near the Seattle airport before the long flight down tomorrow. I only hope we don't kill each other... the last week or so has been touch-and-go in that regard. I'll update when I get back regarding general thoughts on the trip/whatever I feel is pertinent, but for now I'm signing off so as to enjoy the final "official" Spring Break of my life.

(FYI, you guys, I chose to end this way out of an unfounded hope the universe's divine fates will read the "final" [and non-parenthetical] sentence of this post, then determine to prove me wrong no matter the costs... hey, why not, right?)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Brief History of the Bulge

Kids today: eating their vegetables out of a concern for health and navigating computers before they can walk, but still woefully deficient when it comes to a working knowledge of bulges. This post will play out short and to the point - a case study of sorts. When I was little, I boasted an unhealthy obsession with the 1986 movie Labyrinth. I didn't know who David Bowie was, and I had no idea I'd later see Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) getting downright explicit in Requiem for a Dream a mere 14 years later; rather, what got me hooked were the maze and Jim Hensen's creatures.

What disturbed my parents was the bulge.

It's safe to assume that I, along with countless other children of the early nineties, spent a good three hours a day staring at this thing. What was going on? How did anyone think it a good idea for Bowie not to wear any kind of... well, anything?! Once again:

That package Magic-Danced its way across our television and across my childhood, and, though I'm grateful for the young adult I am today, I have to wonder what slight neurological rewiring an AJ sans Bowie Bulge might look like. Then again, maybe today's youth are in for even worse damage:

At what point did Hollywood decide the bulge wasn't suitable for twenty-first century "PG" movies? They've fixed a problem (man in tights) by creating a monster. Run for your lives!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Something Spectacular

Incredible. I REALLY wanted to post the actual video, but that would mean sacrificing part of its frame (Youtube videos don't fit evenly onto blogger pages... it's officially the most annoying thing since Nikki and Paolo), and I was unwilling to compromise. Instead, click here: Video!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Those Darned Bradys

So the cast of The Brady Bunch was supposed to put on a reunion of sorts during yesterday's taping of The Today Show, but the effort was cancelled at the last minute. Some news moguls are claiming a scheduling conflict, to which I'm replying: a scheduling conflict that pops up two days beforehand? Yeah, right. Further fueling these flames of flippant facetiousness are several other news reports claiming the real cause behind the canceling to be one cast member who refused to show up.

Personally, I don't care any which way, because I wasn't planning on watching (having access to approximately zero television channels played no small part in my decision making). I, like anyone else under 40, grew up in a world where The Brady Bunch had already been filtered through the satiric lens of 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie and 1996's A Very Brady Sequel. I learned that Jan hated Marcia only through obtuse references to the original series, I thought that Alice the maid actually did have a thing for sadomasochism, and I never imagined that the original show actually tried to impart wholesome messages on living rooms full of hand-holding families when it aired a good 41 years ago - at least not until an ill-fated encounter with The Legit Brady's one evening on Nick at Nite.

But this isn't the first time the world seems to expect me to care about something or someone that possesses an entirely different slew of connotations for those born prior to 1975. Take, for example, Michael Jackson. I look at him and I see a monster, plain and tall, because how the hell am I not supposed to? Was I around during his golden days? No. Did I see him warp into a plastic nightmare who seduced young boys with a fantasty playground in order to sleep with them? Yes. Captain EO aside, the guy's creeped me out from day one. Same goes for OJ. And Pee Wee (admittedly more modern, but still never given a fair chance in my household).

Anyway, because I feel kinda crummy for this slightly excessive post (those carefully placed "kinda"s and "slightly"s should have cued you into something), how about I treat you to a Strangers With Candy clip? The only way you wouldn't like this is if you didn't want to witness Principal Blackman soliloquizing about melons. And then we wouldn't be friends.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mostly Related to Shutter Island

So Saturday night saw me venturing into Springfield for a late showing of Shutter Island, that new Scorsese film with Leo D - the trailers for which, by the way, mercifully reveal very little plot - and I've got to say the experience has only become more impressive in retrospect. I don't want give anything away, but I would like to comment on both the film's score and cinematography. Exciting post, huh?

First off, I'm not sure whether I'm a huge Scorsese fan, because I've only seen, like, three of his movies, so I'm definitely not an SOA or anything (that being a handy acronym for Scorsese Ouvre Authority [thank you]). However, this one had me hooked from frame one. The score alone is worth the price of admission. Much like The Shining, this bad boy's got music imported from all reaches of history, but mostly employs somber, ominous, creepy-as-hell horn compositions to further enhance its sense of all-out dread. I actually found myself counting numerous nods to The Shining throughout, because aside from the music, Scorsese's roving cinematography, meditations on the nature of sanity, and visual motifs (read: axed children) all harken back to Kubrick's own dread-soaked opus. And that's not a bad thing, because I loves me my Shining.

Lots of people are probably going to discourage friends from seeing this movie because of its ending. "The ending, man," I can imagine them saying, "it's totally a cop-out. Man." Do not listen to these people. They are idiots. Even if the ending has been done before (which it has[-ish]... many times), it's the masterful crafting of Shutter Island as a whole that makes it soar where others crash and burn. Pay close attention to the film's first half hour and then return to it immediately after viewing. Do you see? Do you?! Dammit, why not?

Just kidding, I'm sure you're all bright enough. But seriously, the first fifteen minutes aren't going to be hard to recall in that they're unforgettable (I was gleefully bouncing in my seat throughout) and VERY effectively establish a pace, a tone, and a level of 'holy crap' that the rest of the movie never shies away from attempting to live up to. I'd be lying if I said reels 2-9 were as mind-grape-blowingly awesome as reel 1, but that should by no means be a discouragement. If anything, it should encourage you to get to the theater early so you don't miss out.

Anyway, this is running a bit long. Final thoughts? Leo D is da man. And Patricia Clarkson (though she'll always be Six Feet Under's crazy Aunt Sarah to me) rules in her brief role as - oh, but even that would be revealing too much. Also, Ben Kingsley is starting to get on my nerves. I know he's like acting putty, but he needs to take on a role that doesn't rely on charisma alone to get the job done. Plus, with him involved I kept being all, "scary... creepy... exciting... oh, Ben Kingsley smoking a corncob pipe. Meh." But this is a small potato in an otherwise very beefy stew. Go! Watch! Then get back to me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Best Movie Ending Ever(t)?

I know some of you out there are inclined to argue that Synecdoche, New York is entirely too depressing a movie, but I have to maintain that out of that depressing quality springs something beautiful, and it's not much more apparent than in the film's final five minutes. Charlie Kaufman deserves all kinds of awards for his writing here... I've never before seen anyone get so close to touching the raw truth behind the human condition.

Bravo, good sir!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Everywhere You'll Find Pieces / Of Cupid and Comet"

Everything's just a bit chaotic right now, so I thought I'd title this post with a song lyric from one of Weird Al's finest - the North Pole's been bombed by Santa, you know.

But where was I? Oh, yes, chaos: literally mentioned less than a sentence before I asked where I was. Apologies all around. Turns out AJ Evert has found his breaking point, and it has sprung from where the following collided: 20 credits, a thesis to write (let's hear it for eight pages into draft two!), and no clear idea of what's happening after my life runs head-long off the cliff that's designated (symbolically, for now) by July 22, 2010. Don't even tell me it's almost less than five months from now. I said don't!

Currently, though, I've got lots of happy little things going on. Like perpetual rain. And all my visitors come... and gone. And the new neighbor who enacts intense, eerily-soundtracked, Lynchian confrontations with strange women in the red-carpeted stairwell of my new apartment building - all visible through the peephole in my front door! And an Astronomy midterm on Tuesday (for which my mental roll-call of awful goings-on honestly JUST reminded me about), which should be a cakewalk since I've managed to wake up for class approximately three times so far this term. And sober Saturdays. I've finally had to resort to sober Saturdays to start getting crap done.

And that makes me a Sad Panda.

But on the other hand we've got the new season of LOST, which impressed me to no end by not making me choose which path I'd rather the creative heads have taken - reboot or no? - by giving us viewers both options at once! Now that it's happening, I can't see it having gone down any other way. Seriously, is there anything more delightful than parallel dimensions? Other than fudge? And Weird Al? (I kid. But only kind-of.) My only concern at this point is that I feel like season six is playing out like any other season - albeit a much more exciting one. I mean, we're only 14 episodes from The End. Shouldn't these characters be putting meaning behind every last step as they march through the jungle? Shouldn't their faces look more pensive, more this-is-it-y? Shouldn't the score pulse its way melodramatically through each and every scene? Yes yes yes! So why isn't it happening yet? I want me some climax!

In other news, Season three of Strangers With Candy is (so far) more gut-splitting than seasons one and two combined, so at least one show knows how to up the ante while the ante still needs upping. Or something like that.

And I wonder why I can't write my thesis?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some Thoughts on LOST...

Before we have our collective mind-grapes blown next Tuesday. LOST has been with me - and reshaping daily my perceptions of the extant universe, creative storytelling, symbolism, time travel, effective characterization, and, of course, the need in our lives for mystery - since my sophomore year of high school, which was, like, a long time ago.

Consider: My cousin Eilean freshly married. It's a chilly night in early-to-mid November, 2004, and she's being a good sport about babysitting Sean and I while my parents are someplace vaguely exotic (Mexico? Las Vegas? Florida? Any which way, they came back with Kahlua). I don't really appreciate The West Wing, which is her favorite show, so I'm hesitant to try this new "mystery-drama thing that's really intriguing." Yeah, right, Eilean. But she turns it on anyway, probably out of a desire to keep me shut up between commercial breaks - I was a gabber then. Turns out what we were watching was the broadcast debut of episode 1.11 (this is how episodes are numbered, as I would come to discover), "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues." Well, Charlie was hung by a madman who hadn't been on the plane. And then at the end Boone and Locke unearthed a piece of metal... and began digging. If I had known how much longer I'd have to keep watching for that piece of metal to make any sense, I probably would have stopped. But I didn't, so I kept going. Even after Eilean gave up somewhere around Season 2...

Consider: Me trying to hook Curtis on the show. We camped out in Wal-Mart's (yeah, it still had a hyphen back then) DVD section until midnight, when an annoyingly skinny girl with dyed red hair wheeled in a dolly of new-release boxes. "Waiting for something?" she asked. I nodded, then said "LOST." I was very, very embarrassed to not only be at Wal-Mart, but camped out in its DVD section at midnight on a school night. We watched episode after episode until neither of us could keep our eyes open. "I should get some sleep," I said. "I've got to orient Freshmen EARLY tomorrow morning." Literally five minutes later, before I'd even put my head on a makeshift pillow, Sean entered the room. "AJ. Get up. We have to go to school." True story.

Consider: Losing faith during my freshman year in college under the false belief that season 3 was going nowhere. I stand before you now fully willing to admit that I was dead wrong, and I find solace only in the fact that Jack Shepherd is also a symbol for lost faith. Plus, now he lives in Bend.

Consider: How the hell this thing's going to end! I don't predict any outcome in which I'm even the slightest bit disappointed. I mean, I'm now a straight-up believer in the brilliance of LOST. It's shown me time and again that the crazier shit gets, the more it knows what it's doing. Already I feel a little hole in my heart where LOST belongs, because although I'm SO STOKED for a brand new season I'm also sad that this is, in fact, the beginning of the end. It's like Harry Potter 7 all over again, and I can't decide which has been a more formative experience.

Is it a sign of extreme nerdiness that my friends and I actually debate that very topic? And that some of them instead opt for Lord of the Rings?

This Might be the Post...

... That jumps the shark for a lot (read: like, two) of you, but I'm prepared.

I admire Moby's ambient music almost as much as David Lynch's directing capabilities, so even if this Moby song has no words and is kinda creepy - and even if David Lynch's accompanying cartoon illustrations make it only that much more disconcerting - I'm down to watch it a few times. It's like that one time Gucci paid Lynch millions of dollars to create a minute-long ad for their perfume... and then I sat on youtube clicking "repeat" all night.

At any rate, here you go:

Oh, wait, the video's embedding has been removed... by request. Fuck you, Moby! (I don't believe David Lynch would ever sabotage his work like this... the guy just wants it seen so bad.) Anyway, the video in question is "Shot in the Back of the Head." Youtube it yourself.

As a consolation prize, here's Lynch's Gucci ad, instead.

But wait! There's a catch (I really should look these things up ahead of time before beginning to post): Seems the audio has been removed from all online versions due to a copyright infringement, so if you want the full effect you're gonna have to blast Blondie's "Heart of Glass" from another source while watching it. If you've got the time and the ninety-nine cents for iTunes, it's worth it...

Aaand as it turns out the song doesn't match the video... must've been edited to fit. What a total waste on my part. Sorry...

Monday, January 18, 2010

And the Powerhouse Needs His Sleep

... Is what I've decided to title one of my books if I ever write more than one, which is the laughably unrealistic scenario that the phrase "one of my books" implies. 2010, it seems, is also known as the Year For Embracing Brutal Honesties. Anyway, the above hypothetical title applies just as aptly to this past week of my life as it does to the book I'll never write, so who wants to hear about the last seven days, instead?

All: we all do, AJ!
Me: Yay!

First of all, I took the miserable state of my existence last week [see: previous blog post] a little too seriously and ended up not only finding a single-room apartment for rent, but then touring it, signing a lease, convincing Chris to take over my room in this pit, reserving a U-Haul, stealing cutlery from my parents house during the Bend trip this weekend, and raiding the kitchen here for appropriate pots, pans, and plates while no one else was home. I'm moving out tomorrow afternoon: it's 17th and High for me! From what I could tell during the walk-through, my new home is a sweet little place that, when I'm done with it, will be alternately labeled as "Swanky" and/or "Classy" by those of my friends who see fit to argue over appropriately charming adjectives used for describing the lesser components of my existence.

Second-of-ly, I finally successfully saw Avatar for a second time. Thoughts: I was a lot more okay with the story line this time around. Certain elements also made more sense [SPOILER ALERT!], such as Jake traveling for nearly six years in a cryogenically frozen state to reach Pandora (as evidenced in the opening scene where everyone is too busy ogling over the 3D to pay any attention to what's happening story-wise) and him NOT, in fact, dying at film's end (I'm blaming these scenes' original 3 am screening time for my rather extreme misinterpretation of Jake's fate).

James Cameron also revealed in a recent interview that during the editing process left specific scenes and sections of dialogue intact just so the eventual sequel would make sense, which had me searching for material worthy of extrapolation. What I've got is this: 1) Some serious shit had to go down on Earth for aliens to not only be accepted as real, but for us to then build spaceships capable of traveling millions of light years to the nearest (?) inhabited planet. 2) Pandora is a big place... and there are other tribes. Civil War? 3) Suppose another alien race also decides they need Pandora's precious metals? 4) Avatar 2: Na'vi on Earth. Just saying.

Also, is it okay to be attracted to these creatures? I'm not saying I am... I just want the opinion of someone who's a little less enamored with these Blue Gods-of-War than the Average Joe with a predilection for alien erotica might be. (And who, by the way, has every right. Every right.) James Cameron knows what sells. Sex sells, my friends... and $500 million domestic doesn't lie.